The Phoenix Suns traded for Chris Paul last summer with the hope that pairing him with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton would give them a better chance of ending their playoff drought in the 2020-21 NBA season. As of now, they are establishing an incredible performance, sitting in the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference with a 7-4 record. However, while Booker looks comfortable with Paul as his new backcourt partner, Ayton is noticeably struggling to efficiently co-exist with the veteran point guard.
With his inability to make himself fit with their new-look roster, rumors have started to swirl around Ayton and his future with the Suns. In a recent article, Dan Favale of Bleacher Report included the former No. 1 overall pick on his list of 10 best trade chips in the NBA right now. If he fails to find the perfect chemistry with Paul and Booker as soon as possible, Favale believes that the Suns are better off including him in a trade package to acquire a “third star” before the 2021 trade deadline.
“Ayton isn’t Domantas Sabonis or Karl-Anthony Towns. And even if he were, neither of them plays with someone as talented as Devin Booker, let alone both Booker and Paul. The opportunity for Ayton to branch out may never arise. Couple that with Phoenix’s win-now window and the idea that he could be moved for a third star is hardly far-fetched. He is certainly more expendable than Mikal Bridges, whose importance to the Suns has placed him outside this exercise’s parameters.”
By using Ayton as their main trade chip, the Suns indeed have a realistic chance of adding a legitimate superstar to their roster this season. With Paul currently on their team, it is highly unlikely for Phoenix to go after Houston Rockets shooting James Harden, who’s emerging as the hottest name on the rumor mill. However, even Harden isn’t an option, there are still plenty of big names that the Suns could pair with Booker and CP3.
As Favale noted, some of the potential targets for the Suns in the blockbuster deal involving Ayton is Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, Victor Oladipo, and Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers, and Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors. Beal would be a dream acquisition for the Suns With his ability to excel in an off-ball capacity, he would nicely fit alongside Booker and Paul and enable them to form a three-headed monster in their backcourt.
Meanwhile, by sending Ayton to Indiana, Phoenix wouldn’t only be receiving an immediate replacement at the starting center position in Turner, but also a two-way guard in Oladipo. Turner would give the Suns a starting-caliber big man who is capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc, while Oladipo would provide them with a solid two-way contributor in the wing.
Siakam would also be an intriguing target for Phoenix. However, Favale thinks that if he could only be available for them if the Raptors decided to pursue Harden and the Rockets prefer a package that includes young players and picks.